Healthy Beginnings

Breaking down the three types of pain humans can experience

Lower back pain is the most common form of pain that afflicts humans.

Pain is a sensation that may be a signal that something is brewing in our tissues or organs. It is a sign that we must pay attention to, and if left untreated, it might lead to a serious condition. In our opinion, this is the alarm that the brain is interpreting through the nerve fibers that our body is in disarray.

There are categories of pain; below is a breakdown of each:

Spiritual Pain

This is the pain emanating from the inner core of our being that can only be remedied through satisfying our spiritual needs, which is usually difficult to subjectively define. This is not based on religion, but rather it is one’s faith toward a Higher Being (example: the pain of emptiness).

There are four types of spiritual pain, which the late pastor James H. Bell detailed in a 2014 blog post, “Hope for the “Walking Wounded”:

  1. Meaning Pain: significance of our existence.
  2. Forgiveness Pain: To start with, the most challenging person to forgive is not someone else but ourselves. We had been “let down” at some point in our lives by others or our own, and that leads to our diminished spirit.
  3. Relatedness Pain: This is the strong sense of separation from loved ones, a job, a role or identity. It often happens when a role change occurs, like from a caregiver to the one taken care of, or when we can no longer perform our job that had defined our existence.
  4. Hopelessness Pain: Referred to as the “terminal” illness of the human spirit. Sometimes the loss of hope is not connected to one particular event, but rather to a cumulative set of losses. This is the worst pain of all four types.

Emotional or Psychological Pain

It is an unpleasant feeling of non-physical origin. It is a wide range of experiences characterized as a subjective awareness of negative changes in the self, functions and feelings.

This pain shares almost a similar path with the physical pain in their underlying neurological mechanism. On assessment, it was noted emotional pain affects more areas of the brain compared to physical pain, thus making it more detrimental.

It is sometimes hard to delineate which one is purely psychological or physical. Quite often, emotional pain progresses to physical pain.

Physical Pain

This is most frequently referred to as something that hurts in one’s body and is associated with damage to tissues or organs.

It can be caused by many things and can be described as throbbing, aching and burning as examples.

Facts to know

  • According to the American Academy of Pain Medicine, pain affects more Americans than diabetes, heart disease and cancer combined — in all, there are about 100 million Americans who suffer from chronic pain.
  • The total annual incremental cost of health care due to pain ranges from $560 billion to $635 billion.
  • An estimated 20 percent of American adults (42 million people) report that pain or physical discomfort disrupts their sleep a few nights a week or more.
  • Back pain is the leading cause of disability among Americans under 45 years old. More than 26 million between ages 20-64 experience frequent back pain.


Below are the top three most commonly reported pain conditions among Americans:

27 percent: Low Back Pain

15 percent: Headache or Migraine

15 percent: Neck Pain

Source: National Institute of Health Statistics

Melvin Ibarra Nario, M.D., H.M.D., and Corazon Ibarra, MD, HMD, are among the physicians who work at Bio Integrative Health Center International in Reno. Visit or call 775-827-6696 to learn more.